Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sunday Afternoon Tea
My sister, Bonnie, called me this past week to let me know a family member had passed away. He was a man who had a lot of trauma in his childhood. My mother used to be concerned about him and... as it turned out... for good reason. He entered the world of substance abuse very early and never really left it. He died in the hospital in his late 40s, not a direct result of drugs but a life of abusing his body made it impossible to fight a serious infection.
I was in front of the computer when Bonnie called. I looked up his obituary in our local newspaper. There was nothing there so I did a quick search and found his name and one sentence "services pending". Bonnie said that was all there was so far, even though he had passed last week.
She wanted me to know a few of his siblings were flying in from Texas, where the family had moved when I was just out of childhood. At some time he had found his way back to our hometown while we lived in another state. I was told various family members tried to help him but his decisions always took him back to the dark side of life. There will be a short memorial service for him next week.
I thought about that obituary the remainder of the day. I couldn't get it out of my mind as I drifted off to sleep that night. What kind of life leaves nothing for the obituary? As it is, our entire life is condensed to just a few paragraphs of black and white letters... but nothing?
What constitutes a wasted life? One does not have to conquer worlds, obtain great career status, accumulate millions, write best selling books, make world changing advances in science and medicine, or preach to millions of people in large stadiums.
My sister was eulogized for being a loving mother, as was my mom. Even those who had made many mistakes in their life, as did my brother-in-law who passed on recently, even these people left a life to write about... but nothing?
How can one leave only a couple of words... "services pending"... never to be filled in with names of those loved and places lived, a list of interests and hobbies, perhaps one or two special accomplishments... a job, serving in a war, volunteer work, a church or social group, the way one made people smile or always reached out to help the poor. A man who lived almost five decades... and nothing? What a tragedy.
I once again reaffirmed the decision to live life on purpose, to think about what my journey will show when I look back at it all. I do hope they do not tell everything, as.... "she left large stacks of books unread".